Qigong & Mindfulness May Be Your Best Defense against COVID-19: Boost Immunity, Reduce Stress/Anxiety, & Get Social Support!
Kevin W Chen, Ph.D.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways. This is the biggest global challenge confronted by human being since the World War II:
- As of today (May 2) Over 1.1 million Americans, and over 3.3 millions worldwide have been confirmed with Covid-19 infection, while 10 times more people have probably been infected without being tested….
- There is no effective medication to treat the infection as of now. Over 65k Americans, and over 241k people worldwide, have lost their lives due to the infection; 80% of those who died of COVID19 infection had pre-existing health conditions.
- This pandemic is far more complicated than we think…. with the characteristics of long incubation period, highly infectious, and large portion of asymptomatic infected carriers.
- Although we have had some success in development of effective vaccine, more and more cases reported that even those who have had vaccine are still at high risk to get infected, especially by those mutated virus…. .
- A study published in Nature pointed out, 30-60% of those who are infected by COVID19 will not have an observable symptom, but remain contagious to people around them.
- Top scientists around the world predicted that we are going to live with COVID19 for a long time, as researchers try to find a cure or effective vaccine. Our life-style need to be adapted to peacefully live with COVID19 for at least 18 to 24 months.
- For those who have not infected by the virus, the best thing we can do to defend ourselves is to strengthen our immune system, and keep a calm and healthy daily routine.
How can one rapidly boost one’s immune system? If you have watched closely what were going on in China during the epidemic of COVID19, you would have noticed that an ancient mind-body exercise, Qigong, has gained increased favor from healthcare professionals as well as the general public. Not only more and more people started learn and practice qigong, but also many patients with COVID19 infection in the modular hospitals were taught to practice qigong during their recovery….
Qigong is not just one kind of mind-body exercise, but a general term for all different kinds of mind-body exercises that integrate the breathing, body posture and mind adjustment into one. It is important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The practice has a written history for more than 3000 years, but it did not become a popular public practice until recently when healthcare professionals started paying attention to its healing and therapeutic effects in clinical studies and observations.
Two of the evidence-based characteristics in Qigong practice stand out in such a global pandemic — rapidly boost immune system, and generate calm and mindfulness after practice. In a review of early studies of Qigong therapy for cancer recovery, both in-vivo and in-vitro studies showed that qigong therapy can rapidly increase the activities of immune cells (Chen & Yeung 2002). Dr. Yang (2007) reported that Taiji and qigong practice could significantly increase the anti-body response to influenza among older adults. Wang et al. (2012) reviewed 6 randomized control trials about the effect of Qigong practice on immunity and infection, they reported favorable effects of qigong exercise on immunity, but the quality of research need further improvement in the future. More recently, SZE and colleagues (2017) did a critical review on qigong and immune research; they summarized the published specific immunological data about the innate as well as the adaptive anti-cancer immune bioactivities for cancer patients who practice Qigong in comparison with various control groups. They aimed to relate the various biological components of the changes of specific immune populations including their number and activities, with the marked changes of the cytokine profiles as well as the circulating blood inflammation markers expression, and find some very positive results, although the paper also addresses the current research gap in the lack of sophisticated understanding of the mechanistic of Qigong leading to enhanced immunity.
As to calm and mindfulness, a few systematic reviews provided solid evidence in this line of clinical research (Xiong et al. 2015; Jahnke et al. 2010; Chen et al. 2013 ) that Qigong practice can effectively treat hypertension, reduce anxiety, and generate mindfulness status. As the matter of fact, the entire mindfulness practice is based on a Buddhism qigong, Zen meditation tradition.
No wonder that the State Administration of Chinese Medicine has officially recommended that Eight Pieces of Brocade and Six Healing Sounds (two specific forms of Dao-yin Qigong) are effective means for prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus!
Are you starting curious of what Qigong is, and where you can learn to practice Qigong?
To meet the needs of those self-quarantined at home in the pandemic, and help our like-minded friends to fight against COVID-19, we started offering special weekly Online Qigong for Health training through Zoom video meeting platform since April 2020. We will start teaching Eight Pieces of Brocade and Six Healing Sounds (two specific forms of Qigong recommended by Chinese officials as an effective means for prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus). More importantly, our weekly online Qigong gathering will build a strong community to provide social support for all participants. Here is more details:
Class Contents: Qigong warm-up, ancient wisdom of life-nurturing, three ways gathering Qi. Eight Pieces of Brocade, Six-Syllable Formula (Six-Healing Sounds), Five-Animal Play, Five-element Palm, Integrative mind-body-breath meditation, Breathing-based mindfulness training for stress-management; Lowering Blood-pressure Qigong, Taiji Five-element Qigong, and integrative meditation, and more. Following is the plan for each month in the recent classes (updated):
June 2021: Six Healing Sounds Qigong
July 2021: Qigong for lowering blood pressure, and managing stress
August 2021: Five-element Palm Qigong
Sept. 2021: Qigong for longevity (include dynamic and meditative form, as well as in-bed exercises).
October 2021: Five-animal Play Qigong
Time of Class: Every Sunday morning 8:30–10:00am EST (All time is Eastern Time); you can come at any time, as this is going to be around until the pandemic ends.
Instructor: Dr. Kevin Chen, an Associate Professor at the Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Maryland Baltimore. A certified instructor of medical Qigong, Dr. Chen is also a NIH-funded researcher in clinical studies of qigong therapy for arthritis and for addiction. He is the associate editor for the college textbook “Chinese Medical Qigong”, and the elected executive council members and the deputy secretary of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong (Headquartered in Beijing). Dr. Chen has been a disciples for a few well-known Daoist masters, and has taught Qigong in the U.S. for 20+ years.
Fee: First session is a free trial (need registration for a class first); afterwards:
- $10 per session – pay as you come (flexible, but not convenient)
- $45 for 5 sessions (10% off, make some commitment)
- $80 for 10 sessions (20% off, highly recommended)
- Additional 10% discount for seniors (60+), students (with ID) and UMB employees enjoy additional 10% discount.
- Class is limited to up to 48 registered participants (first come and first serve)
Registration: Click the link below to register online with credit card, or download the Online Qigong Registration Form, and send the signed registration form by email to Dr. Chen’s teaching assistant, Allwyn (email@example.com) for the class link and password to get into the class. You can either register online here, or directly ask for a trial.
To join Sunday Morning Zoom meeting, you need register online first at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ucuysrzgoHNS6oLKIzrartSZJMQE97b19
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
In order to ensure the quality of teaching and effective interaction, we will take up to 48 students for each session on the first come and first serve. If you are interested in such a online training, please register online ASAP to reserve your spot. Otherwise, you may be put on a waiting list for future participation.
As the global pandemic becomes the new normal in daily life, strength of our immunity will become the new competitive power in the society. Are you ready for the new time?
Chen K, Yeung R (2002) Exploratory studies of qigong therapy for cancer in China. Integr Cancer Ther 1(4): 345-370.
Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, Forde D, Magidson J, Dachman L, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression & Anxiety. 2013;297:545–562.
Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F (2010) A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. Am J Health Promot 24(6): e1-e25.
Man-yuen Sze D, Chan V, Wu MB, Xu J, Chi-keung Ng A (2017) Critical Review in Qigong & Immunity Cancer Research. Int J Complement Alt Med 7(3): 00227. DOI: 10.15406/ijcam.2017.07.00227
Wang CW, Ng SM, Ho R, Ziea E, Taam-Wong V, Chan C. (2012). The Effect of Qigong Exercise on Immunity and Infections: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. The American journal of Chinese medicine. 40, DO – 10.1142/S0192415X1250084X
Xiong X, Wang P, Li X, Zhang Y. Qigong for hypertension: a systematic review. Medicine (2015) 94(1):e352. 10.1097
Yang Y, Verkuilen J, Rosengren KS, Mariani RA, Reed M, et al. (2007) Effects of a Taiji and Qigong intervention on the antibody response to influenza vaccine in older adults. Am J Chin Med 35(04): 597-607.
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